Taylor war crimes verdict incomplete justice
May 18, 2012
The conviction of former Liberian President Charles Taylor amounts to only partial justice.
While many Sierra Leoneans are relieved to see Taylor finally convicted for his destructive role in their country's brutal civil war, his wanton destabilization elsewhere in West Africa hardly figured in the criminal proceedings against him.
....To make the conviction more meaningful, the Special Court for Sierra Leone at The Hague should hand down a sentence that seeks restorative justice. Reparation and healing among all those affected by the criminal's acts are key features of restorative justice, which also invites victims to participate in the justice process.
As they consider Taylor's sentence, the judges on the Special Court should solicit input from his Sierra Leonean victims. And they ought to think creatively about how to make his sentence fit the nature of his crimes. Instead of letting him idly pass his days in prison, for example, Taylor could be trained to help manufacture prosthetic limbs, thereby allowing him to improve the lives of the estimated 10,000 Sierra Leonean amputees who were maimed during the war.
Part of his sentence might also include requiring him to read and respond to victims' letters. In creating a space for those who didn't make it to The Hague to tell their stories, Taylor would be confronted with the magnitude of his crimes.
What's more, a renewed effort must be made to recover his vast hidden assets so that they can be used to repair the damage he caused.
By imposing a sentence of restorative justice, the Special Court would point to a more effective way of dealing with criminals. Punishment without communal healing serves no one's interests.